Youth was served well Saturday morning at the Warren Invitational for girls cross country runners.
Buffalo Grove freshman Kaitlyn Ko did not mind the bright lights of the big 20-team meet as she posted a winning time of 17:37 on the 2.9-mile course on the grounds of Warren High School's O'Plaine campus in Gurnee.
Ko was able to outdistance Fremd runner-up Kelly Breen (17:45) under some pretty warm late-morning running conditions.
The Vikings walked away with the big prize as they held off a late surge by second-place Mundelein to capture the championship 68-77.
Fremd received a strong fifth-place finish from sophomore Ayako Higuchi, an 11th from Megan Moroney, and a 19th by Katherine Filosa.
"Kelly (Breen) has been doing this for four years so she's very consistent and you always know she is going to be up front," said Fremd coach Mark Anderson. "Ayako (Higuchi) is really improving this year and Mundelein has a good, solid team and they finished really well in the third mile."
The Mustangs' top-five pack was led by Elena Palacios in seventh, Stephanie Johnson in 10th, Claire Naughton in 16th, Emily Schlebecker in 20th, and Kelsey Loar in 25th.
"We got out not too well and then we had to chase (Fremd) in the second half of the race," said Mundelein coach John Osmanski. "You are not going to beat a team like Fremd when you fall so far behind. But I was pretty happy with the race today."
Cary-Grove outdistanced the host Blue Devils 88-108 for third place while Grayslake Central was sixth with 187 points. Buffalo Grove wound up placing eighth with 237 points followed by Antioch (250 points) in ninth.
"From the start she (Breen) was with me and toward the end she dropped a little bit," said Ko. "It's great to get a PR today and I hope to do better. But it's a good way to start my first high school season."
Grayslake Central was led by the trio of junior Jamie Brew (22nd), Elsie Rehberg (23rd), and Korina Gomez (28th).
"We had a nice top three and Jamie (Brew) had the race of her life today," said Grayslake Central coach Jim Centella referring to his first-season cross country runner. "Having her do well gives us a lot more confidence as a team that maybe we can get downstate this year."
Cary-Grove got another strong third-place finish from Talia Duzey Saturday while senior Meg Tully was once again Warren's top runner in sixth place. Rachel Shoemaker added an 18th-place finish for the Blue Devils while teammate Becky Haight came in 21st place.
"Meg (Tully) did really well and it was a PR for her today," said Warren coach Brett Heimstead. "It was good to see her (Tully) in the lead pack running strong, and it was a really nice race for Shoemaker coming back from injury for the first race of her senior year."
Sarah Riley placed ninth as Cary-Grove's second runner while senior Caitlin Murphy (66th in Class 2A) was Carmel's No. 1 runner in 12th place.
The Trojans also got a 14th-place run from Sarah Englund while Alyssa Aschenbrener led Antioch's pack with a 27th-place finish. Warren's Greta Doden (30th) got the final medal in the girls varsity race, but Cary-Grove's Maddie Lundin just missed the cut off in 31st.